The Adrian Beltre signing will work for the Texas Rangers, not only because of Beltre's significant talent, but because Michael Young's attitude will allow it to work.
The Rangers signed Beltre to a six-year, $96 million contract. He is a superb defensive third baseman, and at 31, he is coming off the second-best offensive season of his career.
But the arrival of Beltre means that Young, the unofficial captain of this team and its clubhouse focal point for years, will be displaced at third. This is a player of real stature with the Rangers and throughout baseball. This is a team that just won its first American League pennant. With another player who had this much standing in the game, this could be a problem. With Michael Young, it won't be a problem.
Young has agreed to become the Rangers' primary designated hitter and "super utility" infielder. He expects to get playing time at all four infield positions, including first base, where he has never previously played.
The willingness to put the needs of the team first is not a new development for Young. He came up as a second baseman, was moved to short, and more recently, moved to third to make way for Elvis Andrus.
For Young, the desire to remain with the Rangers is a larger factor than the desire to have things his own way.
"This is where I want to play," he said Wednesday in a teleconference. "I'm willing to make a pretty big sacrifice to do that."
* * *
No matter what position is involved, the Rangers remain fortunate to have Young. It is not just an issue of the repeated, demonstrated, consistent abilities and production. It is the intangible factor, in which Young remains willing to do whatever is necessary for the good of the team.
He does this for the best of reasons -- he wants to remain a member of the Texas Rangers. He wants to play his entire career with one team, and he will do whatever is in the best interests of the team.
In the context of contemporary sports, you look at this attitude and you are almost moved to say: "How quaint." But you don't say that. You look at Young putting his team above himself, and you say: "That is exactly the way it is supposed to be."